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Goodnight Spotlight: Kay Sumpter

The worry and second-guessing about getting into education and being a teacher quickly faded away once Goodnight Scholar and Elementary Education major Kay Sumpter started her student-teaching experience. This journey allowed her to see that she was meant to be an educator. Her heavy involvement in the College of Education and in her 5th-grade classroom is clear evidence of this. One of her main goals in every lesson is to see that “light-bulb” moment in her students. Read our latest Goodnight Scholars Spotlight to learn more about Kay’s journey at NC State, her interest in education, and her experience in Student Teaching!

Goodnight Scholars Program: Tell us about yourself!

My name is Kyanna Sumpter, but I go by Kay. I am from Sanford, North Carolina and it is about 45 minutes away from NC State. I am a Senior at NC State University majoring in Elementary Education with a Special Education Add-on Licensure. I have been Student Teaching in a 5th grade classroom at Swift Creek. After graduation, I will be teaching in Wake County. I have a German Shepherd named Zora, and she is my best friend. In my free time, you can find me at the park with Zora.

What initially sparked your interest in becoming an educator? 

I initially became interested in education after having first hand experiences in a classroom in high school. I loved engaging with students and I loved implementing lesson plans. Although this experience was with students under the age of 5, this really set my foundation for loving to teach. I knew that I wanted to get experience working with children that were in Elementary School. In high school, I worked at an after school program where I was able to teach students concepts they may have missed during their regular instructional time in class. I enjoyed having this impact and seeing the “light bulb” moment for students when they were able to grasp concepts they were not able to before. This experience stuck with me so much more than I ever thought it would. Now, it is my main goal in every lesson. This lightbulb moment is something that I always look for in my students. 

Before starting my student teaching, I was worried I made the wrong decision to go into education and be a teacher. This journey at NC State has helped me to see that this is exactly where I was meant to be. I had the opportunity to grow as a future educator. I have been able to see that the classroom is my happy place and exactly where I want to be. I have been able to see that my students value me as a teacher and that I am capable of being an effective educator. There is nothing that brings me more joy than being in front of a class and teaching new concepts that they will continue to use throughout their life. 

How is your student-teaching experience going? What is your favorite part about teaching 5th-grade kids? What are some highlights and some challenges? 

I have been student teaching in a 5th grade classroom at Swift Creek Elementary School. At first, I was a little anxious and worried about how the experience would go since I was working with older students. After coming in, I quickly realized that this was where I wanted to be and somewhere I was happy. I loved having the opportunity to build relationships with students. I loved being able to get to know more about my students and their interests. My favorite part about 5th grade students is how much they are starting to grow and shape into the person they will be. When looking at how much my 5th graders have grown since the beginning of the year, I am filled with so much joy. I have seen students grow more responsible throughout the year as they prepare for the next milestone in their life, middle school. With every good thing comes some challenges. I definitely had to work on classroom management and balancing relationships. Many times my students would not take me seriously because we had really good relationships and they did not look at me as an adult who enforced laws. This made it hard to keep kids on task and listening when I began to take over classes. Overtime, introducing and consistently enforcing expectations helped students to do a better job at this. 

You mentioned that you’ve been involved in several organizations within the College of Education. Could you tell us more about that? How did that involvement influence your personal and professional development?

Being involved in many things in the College of Education helped me to quickly find a home and place within my College. I knew when I came to NC State that I wanted to leave my mark and feel like a student who belonged there. I quickly realized that the College of Education had all of these opportunities for me to take advantage of. The College of Education made me feel like I had a home on such a big campus. I have felt myself grow professionally and personally. Personally, I have become a person that is more aware of my actions. I have learned to accept and utilize everyone’s opinions and mindsets. As someone who has held leadership positions within the College of Education, I had to become more open minded to change and flexible. I have grown professionally in many ways.​​ The College of Education had given me the opportunity to personalize my experience and prepare me to teach in an inclusive and diverse classroom. I have even had the opportunity to participate in mock interviews that would prepare me for real interviews with principals. This has helped me prepare for interviews with principals and made it easier for me to feel confident in my responses. The College of Education even allowed me to meet different people in the community and network with many people. One person that the College of Education allowed me to meet was Dr. DeLeon Gray. Dr. Gray was someone who gave me the opportunity to view Education in a different perspective. He helped me to see the importance of building relationships with students and how this impacts their overall success in the classroom and their motivation to learn.

What impact do you wish to have on your field? 

I hope to give every student I teach a great foundation of education. I want them to know despite any challenges they face, they are more than capable of overcoming them and succeeding. I also want to raise awareness to the systematic advantages in place in the classroom. I want teachers to be aware of how they impact their students with their implicit biases. I think it is important to recognize these not only in teachers, but students. As an educator, I want to help students understand how to be open minded and more accepting of things they may not usually come across. I ultimately want to be a positive person in every student’s life that I come across. I want to make each students’ life a little better than it was before they met me. I want students to feel like they matter in my life and that they are supported by me. 

What are some of the things you do on campus outside your major? 

Outside of the College of Education, I have worked at the Wellness and Recreation Center for four years. I started working there the first semester of my freshman year. I have watched the Wellness and Recreation Center be built from the ground up. I LITERALLY watched as the new Wellness and Recreation Center was built and improved for the users to enjoy. I also had the opportunity to grow within the Wellness and Recreation Center. I started off as a Facility Assistant in 1 department and became a Supervisor within 2 departments of WellRec. I have grown close with my bosses and so many of my coworkers. I also have got to know a lot of our regular users and students who come often. I have loved being able to have an impact on the Wellness and Recreation Center. 

Tell us about your experience so far in the Goodnight Scholars Program. What does it mean to you to be a part of the Goodnight Scholars Program community and what has been your favorite part about the program so far?

Although I was not as involved in the Goodnight Scholars Program as I was with the College of Education, I am still so thankful that I had the opportunity to have another community to turn to on campus. My favorite part of the program are the socials that are offered. I love being able to connect with people from my class and other scholars that I may not know. It is always so nice to see what everyone else is doing and how they are using their time to pay it forward. The socials are usually things that I have never done before. It’s always nice to experience new things with people who may have common interests as you.

Photography Credit: Rhiannon See, Goodnight Scholars Program